Why aren't there more black folks in wine?
We'll I'm here, although my whole life I have rarely been pegged as an African American, except by African-Americans. There's nothing more disturbing than having someone say something extremely racist in your presence since they don't think there are any of "those" people around. Used to happen to me fairly regularly as a kid, not so much as an adult. Skeeves me out just thinking back to the time, but I digress...
Set aside the socio-economic arguments, one would think that in 2009 the wine world would have at least a representative number of black wine professionals, but it's still a rarity from my viewpoint. Growing up, my parents didn't drink wine in any way, shape or form, so there was no precedence for my wine rearing. That may be a major reason why we don't see many people of color in the wine world, but there are, for instance, professional black hockey players. Don't know it for a fact but I'd bet their parents didn't grow up on skates. Here are a few wine professionals I know of...
Ruben Morancy - This gentleman is single-handedly responsible for my career. A Haitian man who speaks at least 5 languages fluently, he forced me to drink my first red wine against my will when I only would consume oaky Chardonnay. He then gave me an expensive, rare bottle of wine (1991 Dominus) to make sure I was completely drawn in to the passion of the grape. He's currently starting his own distribution company in California. Ruben, I owe you everything. Best of luck with the new company!
David Brown - I met David Brown of Brown Estate many years ago when I was just a wine fan at their home. I was just thrilled to see that an African American family owned vineyards in Napa. Then I tasted the wines and was equally thrilled by what was in the glass. I haven't tasted them in a while, so I should request some samples.
I met Andre Mac, the former sommelier at Per Se in New York City, once at an industry tasting at the restaurant. Seemed like a nice guy. I understand he's looking to make wine on his own. I wish him success. I also met quite a character, Mac MacDonald, of Vision Cellars recently as he visited us at 56 Degree Wine. He's a larger-than-life individual and his wines are a mirror image of his personality.
That's about it. Bummer.
JCB the 4th